By Aubrey Jasso
A 22-year-old UC Berkeley graduate with local roots has returned from college and joined an already crowded race to represent Delano residents on the city council.
Before a crowd of supporters, Bryan Osorio announced his candidacy Tuesday on the steps of Cesar E. Chavez High School, where he received his diploma just four years earlier.
“The City of Delano needs a fresh perspective that helps bridge our city’s divides,” Osorio said. “My passion is in providing a voice for those who are silenced — those who are disenfranchised by governments at all levels.”
Osorio is vying in an at-large election for one of two seats. Incumbents Liz Morris and Ruben Hill are defending their seats, and resident Noel Ayon has filed papers candidacy papers. City council members serve four-year terms.
Osorio joins a movement of young progressives moving into the political arena in the Central Valley. Arvin has Mayor Jose Gurrola, 24, an outspoken critic of the dangers of pollution caused by the oil industry; and Stockton has Mayor Michael Tubbs, 28, who has spearheaded the nation’s first basic income experiment.
Osorio hopes that — if current Mayor Grace Vallejo is elected to the Kern County Board of Supervisors — it will make way for him to work his way into that position in Delano.
“Bryan is deeply moved by the positive impacts and opportunities Delano has afforded to families like his. But there is still room to grow. He is running for Delano City Council because the city needs a new voice that will challenge the status quo. A new voice which will uplift the forgotten and underserved communities through more inclusive and equitable policies that will consequently help the city to grow,” Osorio’s campaign manager, Angelica Rodriguez, said in a statement.
During his spring break this year, Osorio traveled back to his hometown and organized a rally and march in support of Santos Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Profecto Garcia, who died in a vehicle collision March 13 after being stopped by ICE agents in Delano. They fled the area after being pulled over, then crashed on West Cecil Avenue.
After the march, Osorio said undocumented youth told him they never had a space to share their feelings like that rally. They lacked a sense of community.
Osorio decided then that he would dedicate himself to giving youth an outlet to for their concerns.
“We need to be more present to listening to the concerns of the youth because that what a good leader is,” Osorio said.
Osorio’s priorities include providing at-risk youth more help and more after-school choices; diversifying and expanding job offerings in Delano; fighting against wage stagnation; and embracing all communities, including LGBTQ.
Like Gurrola, he’s also interested in addressing environmental issues impacting his hometown.
“There are a lot of environmental issues to tackle. Environmental justice, climate justice, environmental racism — there are lots of things to tackle,” Osorio said, adding that the region’s poor air quality must be addressed. “When your children have levels of contamination within them, it becomes a huge concern. It allows for them to grow up sick and it is sickening to see how corporations continue to feed off of the pesticide use. Seeing how the youth are getting sick and knowing who is being held responsible and accountable for that.”
Aubrey Jasso, 17, is a youth reporter for South Kern Sol and a student at Robert F. Kennedy High School in Delano, Calif.